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The Atom Bomb: A Brief History

A memory trip including dates and statistics, stating the facts, dates and events that took place during the starting phase of the Nuclear Weapons Project.
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On August 2nd 1939, just before the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein wrote to then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein and several other scientists told Roosevelt of efforts in Nazi Germany to purify U-235 with which might in turn be used to build an atomic bomb. It was shortly thereafter that the United States Government began the serious undertaking known only then as the Manhattan Project. Simply put, the Manhattan Project was committed to expedient research and production that would produce a viable atomic bomb.

The most complicated issue to be addressed was the production of ample amounts of `enriched' uranium to sustain a chain reaction. At the time, Uranium-235 was very hard to extract. In fact, the ratio of conversion from Uranium ore to Uranium metal is 500:1. An additional drawback is that the 1 part of Uranium that is finally refined from the ore consists of over 99% Uranium-238, which is practically useless for an atomic bomb. To make it even more difficult, U-235 and U-238 are precisely similar in their chemical makeup. This proved to be as much of a challenge as separating a solution of sucrose from a solution of glucose. No ordinary chemical extraction could separate the two isotopes. Only mechanical methods could effectively separate U-235 from U-238. Several scientists at Columbia University managed to solve this dilemma.

A massive enrichment laboratory/plant was constructed at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. H.C. Urey, along with his associates and colleagues at Columbia University, devised a system that worked on the principle of gaseous diffusion. Following this process, Ernest O. Lawrence (inventor of the Cyclotron) at the University of California in Berkeley implemented a process involving magnetic separation of the two isotopes.

Following the first two processes, a gas centrifuge was used to further separate the lighter U-235 from the heavier non-fissionable U-238 by their mass. Once all of these procedures had been completed, all that was needed to be done was to put to test the entire concept behind atomic fission.

Over the course of six years, ranging from 1939 to 1945, more than 2 billion dollars were spent on the Manhattan Project. The formulas for refining Uranium and putting together a working bomb were created and seen to their logical ends by some of the greatest minds of our time. Among these people who unleashed the power of the atomic bomb was J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer was the major force behind the Manhattan Project. He literally ran the show and saw to it that all great minds working on this project made their brainstorms work. He was amongst those who oversaw the entire project from its conception to its completion.

Finally the day came when all at Los Alamos would find out whether or not The Gadget (code-named during its development) was either going to be the colossal dud of the century or perhaps end the war. It all came down to a fateful morning of midsummer, 1945.

At 5:29:45 (Mountain War Time) on July 16th, 1945, in a white blaze that stretched from the basin of the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico to the still-dark skies, The Gadget ushered in the Atomic Age. The light of the explosion then turned orange as the atomic fireball began shooting upwards at 360 feet per second, reddening and pulsing as it cooled. The characteristic mushroom cloud of radioactive vapor materialized at 30,000 feet. Beneath the cloud, all that remained of the soil at the blast site were fragments of jade green radioactive glass...all of this caused by the heat of the reaction.

The brilliant light from the detonation pierced the early morning skies with such intensity that residents from a faraway neighboring community would swear that the sun came up twice that day. Even more astonishing is that a blind girl saw the flash 120 miles away.

Upon witnessing the explosion, reactions among the people who created it were mixed. Isidor Rabi felt that the equilibrium in nature had been upset -- as if humankind had become a threat to the world it inhabited. J. Robert Oppenheimer, though ecstatic about the success of the project, quoted a remembered fragment from Bhagavad Gita. "I am become Death," he said, "the destroyer of worlds." Ken Bainbridge, the test director, told Oppenheimer, "Now we're all sons of bitches."

Several participants, shortly after viewing the results, signed petitions against losing the monster they had created, but their protests fell on deaf ears. As it later turned out, the Jornada del Muerto of New Mexico was not the last site on planet Earth to experience an atomic explosion.

As many know, atomic bombs have been used only twice in warfare. The first and foremost blast site of the atomic bomb is Hiroshima. A Uranium bomb (which weighed in at over 4 & 1/2 tons) nicknamed "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima August 6th, 1945. The Aioi Bridge, one of 81 bridges connecting the seven-branched delta of the Ota River, was the aiming point of the bomb. Ground Zero was set at 1,980 feet. At 0815 hours, the bomb was dropped from the Enola Gay. It missed by only 800 feet. At 0816 hours, in the flash of an instant, 66,000 people were killed and 69,000 people were injured by a 10 kiloton atomic explosion.

The point of total vaporization from the blast measured one half of a mile in diameter. Total destruction ranged at one mile in diameter. Severe blast damage carried as far as two miles in diameter. At two and a half miles, everything flammable in the area burned. The remaining area of the blast zone was riddled with serious blazes that stretched out to the final edge at a little over three miles in diameter.

On August 9th 1945, Nagasaki fell to the same treatment as Hiroshima. Only this time, a Plutonium bomb nicknamed "Fat Man" was dropped on the city. Even though the "Fat Man" missed by over a mile and a half, it still leveled nearly half the city. Nagasaki's population dropped in one split-second from 422,000 to 383,000. 39,000 were killed, over 25,000 were injured. That blast was less than 10 kilotons as well. Estimates from physicists who have studied each atomic explosion state that the bombs that were used, had utilized only 1/10th of 1 percent of their respective explosive capabilities.

While the mere explosion from an atomic bomb is deadly enough, its destructive ability doesn't stop there. Atomic fallout creates another hazard as well. The rain that follows any atomic detonation is laden with radioactive particles. Many survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts succumbed to radiation poisoning due to this occurrence.

The atomic detonation also has the hidden lethal surprise of affecting the future generations of those who live through it. Leukemia is among the greatest of afflictions that are passed on to the offspring of survivors.

While the main purpose behind the atomic bomb is obvious, there are many by-products that have been brought into consideration in the use of all weapons atomic. With one small atomic bomb, a massive area's communications, travel and machinery will grind to a dead halt due to the EMP (Electro- Magnetic Pulse) that is radiated from a high-altitude atomic detonation. These high-level detonations are hardly lethal, yet they deliver a serious enough EMP to scramble any and all things electronic ranging from copper wires all the way up to a computer's CPU within a 50-mile radius.

Conclusively, at one time, during the early days of The Atomic Age, it was a popular notion that one day atomic bombs would be used in mining operations and perhaps aid in the construction of another Panama Canal. Needless to say, it never came about. Instead, the military applications of atomic destruction increased. Atomic tests off the Bikini Atoll and several other sites were common until the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was introduced. This treaty hopefully will be respected by all nations equally.

Reference/Source: Outlaw Labs
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Published: February 18, 2004
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Comments
thanks, doing a research paper on the Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb it helped alot. - Jake DD [July 2, 2014]
THANK YOU - will winter bro [July 12, 2012]
helped me a lot - Jose [June 6, 2011]
I want to know what others think. - robert enciso [May 11, 2011]
what others say - robert c enciso [May 1, 2011]
i thought this article was amazing and alot of help for my research project - jack [April 22, 2011]
This really helped me when i was writing my thesis on the Atomic Bomb - Unavalable [April 19, 2011]
what are the new comments - robert enciso [March 28, 2011]
The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,
- RMK [March 24, 2011]
I would like to see if there is any new coments. - robert c enciso [March 5, 2011]
Just I would like to comment on the Atom bomb,even to day the scientists are very proud of them selves that had invented such an destructive weapon,but they has to know that the explosion it self is the hidden nature's secret,they had made the atom bomb only on the elements given by the nature it self, scientists now using the same against the nature,In my sense,they indirectly trying to destroy the nature and its creations,but I know that they neither destroy nor create any thing,because there is a Generator, Operator and Destroyer above us which is monitoring us,when time comes it know what to do... - Nanjunda Mudali [March 3, 2011]
are they any new entrees? - robert enciso [February 17, 2011]
I dont dislike it but it does not have enuf information - bobby [February 2, 2011]
I have got a problem...I habe no pimmel and i want to have one... but im a girl...in LOVE - Mutter von Dir [February 2, 2011]
I like jolly ranchers Lol - Lollipop Gurl [January 13, 2011]
to see if any one had a comment on my views - robert enciso [December 24, 2010]
Some technical corrections to the article. The "Little Boy" atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima is believed to have yielded 13-15 kt in power, not 10kt as reported here. Furthermore, the "Fat Man" plutonium weapon dropped on Nagasaki yielded about 21KT, not "less than 10 kt" as reported here. - RR [December 24, 2010]
This is all true but all of this i found the exact same things( and I mean EXACT wording) in the national archives. The public one not the top secret one. - Joe [December 23, 2010]
see others comments - robert c enciso [December 20, 2010]
see others comments - robert c enciso [December 16, 2010]
see any comments - robert c enciso [December 16, 2010]
see others comments - robert c enciso [December 7, 2010]
want to see others comments - robert c enciso [December 6, 2010]
it was very intersting to read about the atom bomb, Im into numerology and I find it strange how things turn out you see atom bomb adds to 45 and it was droped in 45 1945 equals A666 the bomb the little boy equals 666 and the fat man when turned around equals six the manhattan project equals 626 which spells ok 6 one was droped on the 6 and the other on the 9 which nine equals 6 the year 1945 spells aid or A nine me which nine equals 6 Nagasaki equals nine which equals 6 which gives us 666 by adding the nines it took 6 years and it was oversaw by Robert which equals 6 my question is was it all planed or destiny has a hand in this thank you. - robert c enciso [December 6, 2010]
But i am worried about the feature ! - Franky [November 29, 2010]
i think that bthis site is not very good it need abit more information - george l [July 5, 2010]
we ethiopian must have it - me [July 1, 2010]
The People of the World know about the drawbacks and its effects but
still a lot of nuclear weapon are being made and prepared, it is the double standard of the developed nations this should be stopped and all weapons should be eliminated from the earth,
- RMK [May 22, 2010]
i like cheeseburgers - cheeseburger [March 29, 2010]
ok... - christian [March 15, 2010]
Holy mother of god...lets hope karma doesn't get us too badly. - HEATMIZER [March 9, 2010]
Love it thanks

From a 7th grader.
- Wesley Adcox [January 26, 2010]
i loved the information. it was perfect for my report. thnx! - snikkers [October 29, 2009]
KABOOM! So any way great article it really helped me with the article - afddaf [September 22, 2009]
mwhaha i was the one who invinted the atom Bomb XD
I kill u , i kill u all!
- Brittany Morris [September 14, 2009]
one boy said pakistan made the atom bomb
he must be crazy ha ha ha ha !
- john [May 3, 2009]
this sight is good - david atiribom [April 23, 2009]
this sight rocks - goodrun [April 23, 2009]
i think that this was great i would like to know were i can get the number of the people that make them so i can ask them question for my paper. - jessica scott [March 12, 2009]
thank you fror this site it help me with essay very much - leo chang [November 13, 2008]
i think it was very inrtesting that he made a atmic bombb and i dont get why he even made itt - thomas banks [October 15, 2008]
how was the atomic bomb made - justin [October 9, 2008]
KKK 4 LIF!! - LEON [April 21, 2008]
im to fat for my age - Heather [April 21, 2008]
i did not lik it at all
u african american lover!
- Antonio [April 21, 2008]
Well I didn't really read this aritcle but whatever - Jenny Stopincow [April 1, 2008]
i think that the bomb was worthless.it killed 2 many people. i think that who ever thinks the bomb was good should think twice. - kiki [March 10, 2008]
Thanks this has helped me understand better. - Heather [February 4, 2008]
Thisis great for my research paper and vishwas is a good author
thanks
- bonger 49er [December 11, 2007]
ya this also helped me with my reading project in middle school so thanx!
- F [October 3, 2007]
we should hav used that agenst russia in vietnam so many times it was inhabital
- NICHOLAS LONGST [July 13, 2006]
i never thought it was that bad

- NICHOLAS LONGST [July 13, 2006]
my god that was one hell of a day - NICHOLAS LONGST [July 13, 2006]
some of my family is japanese - ryan harris [May 8, 2006]
i think that we should have leveled japan
- ryan harris [May 8, 2006]
i agree - dfgfy [March 15, 2006]
holy snot - gyun [December 6, 2005]
I think that those people who threw this atom bomb were CRAZY!!! - tati [August 9, 2005]
Rex is right - halo boy [April 21, 2005]
damn - me [April 21, 2005]
Thanks, helped my highschool project alot, and I too... like poo - ^^ [April 6, 2005]
i LOVE POOP!!!!!! - peter [December 2, 2004]
atom - jessica [May 26, 2004]
Very very informative article. Thanks! - Rachel [April 8, 2004]
The first A bomb wasn't set of in NORTHEREN NEW MEXICO.
It was set off in the SOUTH EAST PART OF NEWMEXICO.
Very close to the Texas border.
The site was called trinty site.
- REX [April 3, 2004]
Nice! Very helpful in my history project at college - Deepti [March 10, 2004]